by Jamar Laster
[Excerpts below. Full article here. ]
The Merger Quandry
Jennifer J. Fondrevay, a chief humanity officer and internationally skilled C-suite executive who has survived three multibillion-dollar acquisitions, says blending cultures after a merger or acquisition can, at its lowest point, become a turf war.
Fondrevay says she frequently sees large companies acquiring small, entrepreneurial companies for their products, spirit and outside-the-box thinking, only to rip apart those aspects at the time of integration. “There are several challenges in blending cultures. Does one culture dominate another? Who decides? What parts of the culture are maintained?”
Fondrevay says that one side might feel that all elements of their culture must be maintained when another side does not value them so much. “And the acquiring company might not feel that they have to adopt any of the acquired company’s culture. They are the acquirers so they may think, ‘Why bother?’”
Surviving the push(back)
Fondrevay, who has founded a merger-and-acquisition consultancy called DAY ONE READY, advocates proper planning from the moment a merger or acquisition is considered, thus allowing time for determining the best parts of both cultures and how they can fit harmoniously. She likens the planning process to a couple getting married and moving into a new home.
“It’s always best for both [people] to move into a new place together, and agree on what furniture to bring to create a new home,” Fondrevay says. She points to Boeing’s acquisition of aerospace manufacturer McDonnell Douglass as examples of successful planning, noting that Boeing went to great lengths to make acquired employees feel valued – even incorporating the McDonnell Douglas logo into its own.
The Human Factor
Even a surging digital presence in business shouldn’t replace a company’s cultural foundation. Fondrevay says to remember your company’s original vision for the product, service or solution that was created to serve a particular audience because those things — and what they stand for — attract people to not only invest in them but also to work for your company.
“There is no different implication for the digital manifestation of your brand and company then there is the static logo and brochure that have always existed for your company,” Fondrevay says. “It is the meaning you bring to that logo and brand that inform your culture, and vice-versa.”